The vice-chancellor of University of Witwatersrand Adam Habib has defended the decision to bring in a private security company to the campus during the student protests last week.
The use of private security at Wits during the student #FeesMustFall protest raised a few eyebrows but the Vice Chancellor insisted saying “The university would have needed a court order to get the public police to the campus and once they were there, one could not limit their operations or influence their decisions and strategies”.
He explained that this was not the case with the use of private security. “Even though it costs more money, they will at least give room for the authorities at the institution to participate in their operations. The institution had even insisted that no guns be used in any of its campus operations,” he said.
Hiring a private security at wits gave the institution more operational control on campus, the vice-chancellor said in an open letter to his colleagues on Monday.
“For those who were worried about this arrangement, would they have preferred that we brought the public order police onto campus immediately? Would that not have allowed for the use of rubber bullets and other actions as have happened in other university settings in recent weeks?” Habib asked.
Registration for first year students came to a halt after members of the “Fees Must Fall” campaign protested on the campus last week and the students were urged to register online.
This announcement affected the poor students because they were at a disadvantage to look for internet connection which will cost them more money.
“Forcing us to cancel face-to-face registration adversely affected the poorest of those who wanted to register. Online registration enabled the middle and upper middle classes to continue with the process. They have online facilities and they have credit cards”.